By David J. Smith
In this day and age, creating a website is no longer in the realm of the computer geek that spends countless hours at the keyboard punching out hand written code to build the perfect website.
Today, building a website can be as simple as starting up your favourite word processor, designing the layout, adding the content and then saving the document as a web page, but once you have created your site, you need a place to store your website to allow it to be viewed by the rest of the world online. It is at this point you need what is known as 'web hosting'.
What is 'web hosting' I hear you ask?
In its most basic form, a web hosting provider rents you storage space on their web server. Their web server will offer all the necessary features for your site to be viewable on the internet at any time, from anywhere across the world.
At this time there are literally thousands of web hosting providers all chasing your business, with so many hosts to choose from it can be very confusing to choose the best host that suits your needs. Pricing ranges from free to hundreds of dollars per month. There are also many services and features which adds to the confusion if you don't understand the terminology.
Why should you pay for hosting?
There are many free web hosting providers on the internet, but firstly you must ask yourself, why are they offering hosting for free, what do they get out of it? This is where the limitations of free web hosting are shown.
Firstly, most free web hosting providers will add advertisements to your website. The free hosting provider needs to make money in some way, adding advertisements to every page of your website is one such way for the provider to make money. The addition of the advertisements as you can imagine will detract from the aesthetics of your site, you will also have no control over the content of the advertisements, if your site is for business, it is quite possible to see one of your competitors advertisements on your website.
Free web hosting providers in general will also restrict the type of content you can put on your website. They generally limit the amount of multimedia like music and video to keep bandwidth usage to a minimum. You might also be prohibited from selling anything from your website.
Free hosts also tend to come and go, this means your website may disappear overnight without you ever knowing. If the free web host cancels your service or goes out of business, your website will go with them.
If your website is in any way business orientated, it is worth paying for a reliable web hosting provider. You will find plans in the $5-$10 per month range, that will offer more features and better service than any free web host will offer. For this small amount each month, you will have the peace of mind knowing that your website will be online longer and it will be able to handle large amounts of visitors without a problem.
Typically speaking, the more you pay, the more features and services you will receive. Higher priced plans generally offer more disk space, more bandwidth allowance, and other features such as database support, email accounts, and allow the use of custom scripts.
In closing, be sure to investigate each web hosting provider thoroughly, narrow down your shortlist by removing hosts that don't offer the features you need or may need in the future, compare the prices of each host and the feature set provided, keep narrowing down your shortlist until you have found the web hosting provider that fits your needs perfectly, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
David J. Smith owner and operator of Webhost Advisor has recently written a Bluehost review and they have been found to be a reliable web hosting provider which you should put on your short list when choosing your web host.